Opinion | Curbing Chinese aggression is the need of the hour4 min read . Updated: 08 Sep 2020, 08:35 AM IST
India’s army will now take action on border movement and diplomats will negotiate
We were climbing towards Ramvan from Chakrata at a slow pace. Suddenly someone screamed. We drove the car forward. At the next bend of the road, we saw a number of soldiers in military fatigue near a cave on the hilltop. A rope was hung from the cave down to the road. An instructor was training them to absail down. Before the jump, the trainee had to shout aloud, and we thought that someone was screaming.
We stopped the car. There was no board of any army camp nearby. During their break, I asked the instructor the name of their unit. The instructor said this was the Special Frontier Force (SFF), and said most of the soldiers were Tibetans. During the conversation, I found that they were angry with China and were waiting for their turn. More than three decades have passed, but the incident remains alive in my mind.
At the moment when there is unprecedented tension on the Line of Actual Control with China, everyone is talking about SFF. Till now this force was unknown to most. It was kept on the backstage as a strategy during the 1971 Bangladesh War in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, in 1984 for hoisting the tricolour at the Siachen and during the Kargil war in 1999. The army has not yet officially said anything about it, but it’s the talk of the town—that these fighters have captured the inaccessible peaks of Pangong.
This is the first time that India had taken such action on the China border. Earlier through Balakot and surgical strikes, the Modi government had sent a message not only to Pakistan but to everyone across the border. We have been trying to resolve Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and Chinese incursions at the diplomatic level till now. Now the army will respond to the action and the diplomat will reach the point through dialogue. Xi Jinping and his junta failed to understand this.
No wonder defence minister Rajnath Singh has visited Moscow twice in the last two months. Last week he went there for the ‘Shanghai Cooperation Organization’ meeting. China’s defence minister Wei Fenghe was also there. The talks between them was not on the agenda but Wei took the initiative, with Russia pushing for it as well. This is the first high-level dialogue amid unprecedented tension at the border. What happened? What arguments were given by both sides? Will there be a solution? The answers are not known yet. We have to be vigilant. China never keeps its promises. The martyrdom of Indian soldiers from Rezang La to Galwan alerts us to this fact.
Singh’s visit was also important because we still depend a lot on Russia for essential military supplies and historically it has been our friend. Russia always supported us during the wars with Pakistan. Things have changed in the last few years, so there is a need to renew this bond. It is said that the outcome of the biggest wars are decided finally on the negotiating table and that if this negotiation is already done, there is no need for war. And now, foreign minister S. Jaishankar is going to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on 10 September. Is Moscow going to add a new chapter in India’s strategic history after Tashkent?
Even if China had not encroached on our land, India still had to acquire the power to deal with it. The Pentagon has revealed in a report this week that China is looking to double its nuclear stockpile in 10 years. Not only this, China also wants to besiege India from all sides. It has ambitions to build military bases in the UAE, Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles and Angola along with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. China claims that it has the largest navy in the world. It is a different matter that due to the diplomatic efforts of New Delhi, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have thrown out Beijing’s offer. Is Nepal next?
It is said of World War II that if Hitler had been prevented from advancing from Munich, there would not have been a second world war. Isn’t it an easy way to deal with fears of a Third World War—that the whole world makes a meaningful effort to stop Xi Jinping’s expansionist attitude? Perhaps this is why the US has increased its deployment of warships and warplanes in Diego Garcia and South China Sea. It is needed in the current situation.
The manner in which the foreign ministry of China is talking these days tells us a lot about it. Earlier this week, when the Czech Republic criticized it, China rebuked that the Czech Republic would have to repent for it. Australia has also been threatened in the same manner. Chinese spokesperson has even threatened that China will make things worse for India than in 1962. Everyone knows that a lot has changed in India between 1962 and 2020. The peaks of southern Pangong Tso bear witness to this. Beijing is not so deaf as not to hear the echoes from here.
Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. His Twitter handle is @shekarkahin